There is silence today at Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia, but that wasn’t always the case. During the Civil War, Harper’s Ferry was a key supply base for Union troops and an important transportation corridor.
In 1862, Major General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his Confederate troops surrounded and captured a much larger Union garrison near this once tranquil little town. The Confederates methodically positioned cannons along the three separate ridges that overlook Harper’s Ferry, where Union Colonel Dixon Miles had neglected to post men or artillery. Bombarded without means to escape or retaliate, Union officers unanimously agreed to surrender here on the morning of September 15.
Jackson captured over 12,700 Union troops at Harper’s Ferry – the largest surrender of United States soldiers during the Civil War. The Confederates also seized 13,000 arms and 47 pieces of artillery.
It may be silent now along the paths that wind through Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, but if you stand on the ridge where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, you just might hear the cannons roar.